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Hugh Sheridan reveals how he overcame his battle with mental health and spills on THOSE Rafters rumours

Hugh reveals why he can't wait for the reboot...

By Maddison Hockey
When it comes to doing what he loves, there's simply no slowing down for Hugh Sheridan.
The four-time TV WEEK Logie Award winner first burst onto our screens as beloved character Ben Rafter, in Packed To The Rafters, before solidifying his star power with roles in Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story Of INXS, House Husbands and Five Bedrooms.
Now, the Adelaide-born actor is about to star in The Real Dirty Dancing, which sees eight celebrities travel to the US, master the moves of the classic '80s film and compete against each other to play Johnny Castle and Baby in a live production of the musical.
As TV WEEK settles in for a chat with Hugh, he's relaxing in an airport lounge – somewhere, he jokingly says, is a place he spends a lot of his time, thanks to a very busy schedule.
Where are you jet-setting to today?
I'm heading to the Gold Coast to discuss a film. I'm also doing Hair The Musical and a George Michael concert, so I'm travelling a lot. I travel more than most pilots that I know. Every time they see me on a plane, they say, "Oh my God, you're flying again?!"
Hugh Sheridan's career has taken off since his days on Rafters.
Considering your busy schedule, did it take much persuading to join The Real Dirty Dancing?
It didn't take too much at all, because I thought it looks like a lot of fun! I've always been quite close to Dirty Dancing so I felt this was an opportunity to finally do it. I didn't realise it was a competition, but I decided to perform as an actor and as an opportunity to go out and dance.
Everyone's vying to win the role of Johnny and Baby [originally played by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the film]. Did the competition between cast mates become fierce?
There were definitely competitive characters in there, I think Anna [Heinrich] and Firrass [Dirani] were, and obviously Jude [Bolton] and Steph [Rice] who are sports people, so they're competitive by nature. I think myself and Anne Edmonds were a little bit more relaxed, I just went in and did my best.
The cast of The Real Dirty Dancing.
Johnny may be a dream role, but for many fans, your character Ben Rafter will forever be a favourite. Would you return to Packed To The Rafters if the reboot were to happen?
Of course! I mean there's so much to it. I love the show and I really, really love playing Ben Rafter. I miss him, and I miss playing that character everyday. Someone sent me an article saying that it's been confirmed – that's not the case. But we definitely are talking about it.
What do you imagine a Rafters reboot would look like?
I think it would be very much the same feeling. Obviously, they sold the house, so it would have to be somewhere else. But I think it would be about what has happened in their lives over the last 10 years and where they are now.
Do you still keep in contact with all the Rafter family?
We certainly all still chat and we all still love each other. Zoë Ventoura [who played his on-screen wife Mel] and I are still really close too. We just have figure out a way to bring her back [to the reboot]. Maybe in a dream sequence!
Hugh with his Rafters family.
You were also recently involved in a terrifying random attack while in Perth. What happened?
I was on the phone to a cast member [from Hair] that was checking I wasn't walking home alone because [a fellow cast member] Matt [Manahan] had just been glassed. But while I was on the phone, a kid came up and smashed my brother in the face. I dropped the phone and started screaming. Eventually we could identify that it was the same person who had attacked my brother and Matt.
It would've been terrifying. Did you fear for your life in that moment?
It's crazy, the adrenaline kicked in and I wasn't scared at all.
You're an ambassador for the Perfectly Imperfect campaign, which focusses on raising awareness and support around mental health. Why is that a special cause to you?
It's not just Perfectly Imperfect, but all mental health campaigns that are really important to me, especially in Australia. We have massive issues around mental health that are leading people to do more drugs and is attributing to homelessness. Mental health also includes suicide, which is the number one killer of all young people in Australia and the number one killer of men. I think there's a lot more that we need to do.
Hugh's co-star Matt was glassed in a brutal attack.
Have you ever dealt with mental health issues on a personal level?
I've had moments with myself when I was younger, living away from home. I moved away when I was only 16 to finish school in Melbourne and that was probably the hardest that I've ever had it. When I was younger, I'd sometimes wonder where I am going and what I am doing with my life. It's about working out how to get through that and most of the time the best way is to talk to someone.
Have you been on the other side and been a friendly ear to talk to?
I have people reaching out to me all the time on social media whom I talk to regularly. Some of them are farmers that live miles away and we've never met, but I've talked them through some tough situations. It's hard because I'm busy, but if someone needs to talk and feel they can talk to a stranger, it can be a bit easier.
The Real Dirty Dancing airs Monday and Tuesday, 7.30pm, on Channel Seven.

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